Rancho California Water District raises customer satisfaction and lowers agent cost with Pronexus Business Solution

Dec. 6, 2002
Using the Pronexus Business Solution for Utilities, Rancho California, was able to implement around-the-clock customer service, lower agent costs and increase operational efficiency.


Dec. 6, 2002 --Using the Pronexus Business Solution for Utilities, Rancho California, was able to implement around-the-clock customer service, lower agent costs and increase operational efficiency.

Inbound callers are able to check account balances and payment status among other things, while outbound dialing capabilities help the company deal with overdue accounts and outage notifications.

The Pronexus Solution has enabled RCWD to grow its customer base without adding additional customer service staff and increase customer satisfaction.

Rancho California - An Overview
The Rancho California Water District (RCWD) provides water and sewer services to the area of Temecula - Murrieta in California. Formed in 1965, it serves approximately 32,000 residential and commercial customers.

Situation
In the past, RCWD has handled customer service activities exclusively using live agents. The company realized that implementing an automated system for both inbound and outbound activities could improve its ability to service customers on a 24-hour basis and allow growth without adding additional staff. "As a rule of thumb, we required a new customer service representative for every 5000 accounts," commented Jeff Armstrong, Accounting Manager at RCWD. "We saw the opportunity to improve on this ratio, while at the same time improving customer satisfaction and lowering costs."

RCWD also saw an opportunity to reduce the number of account shutoffs due to delinquent accounts. "Every time an accounts gets shut off, we incur significant costs," said Armstrong. "We saw that outbound notification would allow us to avoid these costs and use our human resources for more productive purposes."

RCWD decided to first implement an inbound system, to offload some of the 3000 calls the company was experiencing on a monthly basis. More recently, it also chose to install an outbound notification system to alert customers about repair outages and overdue account situations.

Solution
After an evaluation of alternatives, RCWD chose Pronexus to deliver the desired solution. Pronexus' proven experience and expertise with the implementation of computer telephony environments was a key factor in the decision.

"We needed a solution that would easily integrate with our utility billing system, our phone system, and be flexible enough to produce an end product that is totally customized to our needs," said Armstrong. "Pronexus was able to deliver that product."

The chosen application, now known as Utilities OnCall(tm), not only offers a comprehensive, extensible feature set, but also provides proven scalability at an economical cost. Callers can interact with the system to obtain account balances and payment histories around the clock, and over 20% of system users are phoning in after hours. As more people are taking advantage of automated services, the solution can scale readily to handle increased loads.

The system also makes outbound calls in overdue account situations or to notify affected customers of pending outages in their service areas. Automation was key to this capability. Built-in reporting capabilities ensure that RCWD can easily monitor the ongoing health of the system.

Armstrong further described the Pronexus solution. "Great customer service is a primary goal for our organization. When most of your customer contact is done by phone, accuracy and efficiency is key in meeting this goal. The IVR system allows us to serve more customers in the same amount of time. Additionally, it has proven very convenient for our customers to use. Many of our customers commute to other areas to work each day, this commute can easily be over an hour. Since we are closed when they get home it is nice to be able to have a system in place to answer some of their basic questions after-hours while they are home. This allows us to better serve our customers in a more cost effective manner. We actually get customer calls to the IVR system on major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas Day."

Business Benefits
Using the Pronexus Business solution, RCWD was able to implement a comprehensive automated customer service offering. Since implementing the inbound system in early 2000, RCWD was able to grow its account base by 28%, or 7000 accounts and has only recently added half a staff person to its call center operations. Over 20% of inbound calls today are handled exclusively by the IVR system, resulting in significant cost savings for the company, while allowing agents to focus on more complex inquiries.

The recently implemented outbound component has also yielded impressive - and even surprising - results. Customers appreciate the overdue account notification and in many cases call back within a very short timeframe to arrange payments. This has dramatically reduced the number of necessary account shut-offs and improved financial performance due to faster bill collection. Combined with the system's ability to proactively notify affected customers of repair outages, this has raised customer satisfaction and lowered human resource requirements.

At a glance

Customer Profile
Rancho California Water District (RCWD) is a regional provider of water and sewer services in Temecula, California, serving a customer base of 32000.

Business Situation
Faced with ongoing call center demands and associated costs, RCWD wanted to implement an automated system for both inbound and outbound call handling.

Solution
Using the Pronexus Business Solution for Utilities, RCWD was able to achieve its goals. Callers enjoy 24-hour access to account status and billing information, while the outbound capabilities inform customers of repair outages and overdue accounts.

Business Benefits
Among other benefits realized, RCWD optimized operational efficiency by offloading routine tasks to the automated system, increased customer satisfaction and improved financial performance due to faster collection of overdue accounts.

About Pronexus
Pronexus Inc. is a computer telephony applications specialist with partners and customers in over 110 countries. The company is the developer of OnCall(tm), a line of turnkey CT business solutions for a variety of industries and applications. It also provides professional services for businesses requiring custom applications and develops the award-winning VBVoice(tm), a Rapid Application Development tool for building business-critical wired and wireless CT solutions. Comprehensive support services and acclaimed training complete the firm's offerings.

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